Deliberate misunderstandings

8 02 2019

PPT has posted a couple of times mentioning dissembling by Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai and head of immigration Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, known by his nickname as “Big Joke” on the Hakeem al-Araibi.

We now consider that their dissembling has become so determined that they are trying to deliberately mislead. For example, Big Joke is quoted in newspapers saying

he met Paul Robilliard, the Australian ambassador to Thailand on Wednesday and informed the latter about the fact that the requested extradition of Araibi to Bahrain is being considered in court.

According to Pol Lt Gen Surachate, Mr Robilliard had admitted to him that Australia did notify Thai immigration authorities about the Interpol “red notice” against Araibi, which led to his arrest.

The ambassador was very uncomfortable with the Araibi situation and he is therefore pressuring the Thai government to send Araibi back to Australia where he is recognised as a refugee, said Pol Lt Gen Surachate.

There’s so much wrong with this statement that it can only be Big Joke’s invention. According to information publicly available, Australian Ambassador to Thailand, Paul Robilliard, finished his posting in Thailand on 29 November 2018.

Here’s what the Australian Embassy officially says on this matter:

Due to misreporting on the matter, the Australian Government would like to clear up confusion regarding the Interpol Red Notice issued against Hakeem Alaraibi.

Australia never issued a red notice against Mr Alaraibi.

This red notice was issued by Bahrain on 8 November 2018, shortly before Mr Alaraibi travelled to Bangkok.

The red notice should never have been issued because of Mr Alaraibi’s status as a protected refugee. This was a breach of Interpol’s regulations.

The Australian Government was not initially aware of this, and in line with Interpol procedure notified Thailand of Mr Alaraibi’s travel.

When the Australian Government became aware of the situation, we ensured the red notice was rescinded as soon as possible. This happened on 30 November, only three days after Mr Alaraibi arrived in Bangkok.

Australia is reviewing our procedures so that this does not happen again.

The Australian Government has said unequivocally on many occasions that Hakeem Alaraibi should be returned to Australia, where he is a permanent resident with protected status, as soon as possible.

None of this is new information, and has been widely known and reported. Australian Ambassador-designate Allan McKinnon also said:

The Government of Bahrain knew very well that Hakeem al-Araibi lived in Australia since 2014. During these four years, the Bahraini Government did not attempt to ask Australia about Hakeem at all or to request to send him back to Bahrain

However, as soon as Hakeem and his wife travelled to Thailand for their honeymoon, the Government of Bahrain expedited its coordination with the Thai Government to have Hakeem arrested and commence extradition proceedings immediately.

The actions of the Bahraini Government have put Thailand in a very difficult position.

In particular, during what is an important year for the people and country of Thailand.

I reiterate once again that the Government of Australia would like Hakeem al-Araibi to be returned to Australia as soon as possible. He is a refugee and permanent resident of Australia.

Thai officials are deliberately creating misunderstandings to muddy the waters on this issue. Clearly, it is within Thailand’s jurisdiction to simply return Hakeem to Australia.


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